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Old 01-13-2014, 01:14 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Uncontrollable Barking...At a Tree

My husband and I recently bought our first house and promptly spent a ton of time and money on a new fence so that our 3-1/2 year old GSD Reagan could enjoy the backyard. We had previously rented a house with a similarly-sized fenced in yard and never had any issues with him being out there on his own as long as we were home.

Since moving into the new house, Reagan has been pretty reluctant to go outside on his own. I will open the door and he will run out onto the deck and then turn around and wait for me to come with him. If I don't, he immediately runs to a large tree in the yard, puts his front paws up on the tree and barks (pretty aggressively) like he can see a squirrel or something up there. I've tried to teach him that if he does that, he comes inside. The problem is that in order to get him inside, I have to go out and physically bring him in. Most times, he'll run away before I can grab him, and start acting like we're playing some kind of game. Its getting to be extremely frustrating and frankly, if I were my neighbors, I'd be pretty tired of it by now.

Obviously we both go out and play with him as often as we can, but this is happening every time we let him out. We do have an e-collar that was used by our trainer a couple years ago and that we now use to maintain his training. It has no effect on him when he is barking at the tree.

Any advice/suggestions would really be appreciated. I will be contacting our trainer about it. Just thought I'd try here first.

Thanks.
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Old 01-13-2014, 01:21 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Obviously there is a ghost sitting in that tree
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:50 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Obviously there is a ghost sitting in that tree
Apparently.
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Old 01-13-2014, 02:57 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Obviously there is a ghost sitting in that tree
That is exactly what I thought when I read this, lol. I'm thinking cat ghost.
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:04 PM   #5 (permalink)
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If he's reluctant to go out on his own, it sounds like something scared or hurt him or something. Raccoon, squirrel, cat, something. I would try to change his association with the tree to something positive. Maybe do tricks and commands for treats near it, toss his toys around the base, whatever. Keep him on a leash so if he decides it's barky time, it's also inside time. How long has this been going on?
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Old 01-13-2014, 03:59 PM   #6 (permalink)
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We've had the fence up for about 3 months now and his reluctance to be out there by himself has been growing pretty much that whole time. At first I was thinking that for whatever reason, he was just much more interested in playing with us than he had been before. This issue with the tree only came about in the last 2-3 weeks or so and has gotten progressively worse. I stopped using the e-collar when he does it, because I think that was making things worse. I will try doing some treat-based training around the tree tonight or tomorrow and see how that works. Thanks for the advice!
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Old 01-13-2014, 04:50 PM   #7 (permalink)
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I agree with trying to desensitize. I would keep a long line on him for now when he's out so he always have to 'come' when called.
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:00 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Lol im sorry the title of the thread made me laugh! But yes desensitize- bounce a ball off the tree, put treats on the tree heck maybe hug the tree and show the dog the tree's harmless. Although your new neighbors may think your :S lol.

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Old 01-13-2014, 05:08 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by reagansmom View Post
My husband and I recently bought our first house and promptly spent a ton of time and money on a new fence so that our 3-1/2 year old GSD Reagan could enjoy the backyard. We had previously rented a house with a similarly-sized fenced in yard and never had any issues with him being out there on his own as long as we were home.

Since moving into the new house, Reagan has been pretty reluctant to go outside on his own. I will open the door and he will run out onto the deck and then turn around and wait for me to come with him. If I don't, he immediately runs to a large tree in the yard, puts his front paws up on the tree and barks (pretty aggressively) like he can see a squirrel or something up there. I've tried to teach him that if he does that, he comes inside. The problem is that in order to get him inside, I have to go out and physically bring him in. Most times, he'll run away before I can grab him, and start acting like we're playing some kind of game. Its getting to be extremely frustrating and frankly, if I were my neighbors, I'd be pretty tired of it by now.

Obviously we both go out and play with him as often as we can, but this is happening every time we let him out. We do have an e-collar that was used by our trainer a couple years ago and that we now use to maintain his training. It has no effect on him when he is barking at the tree.

Any advice/suggestions would really be appreciated. I will be contacting our trainer about it. Just thought I'd try here first.

Thanks.


So what happens if you follow him outside? Does he still go to the tree? Him taking off running like it's a game kind of tells me it may be an attention thing. He wants to interact with you. Maybe when you don't follow him out, he goes to the tree because he knows you will be out to get him shortly if he's persistant. Have you just let him go until he stops barking at the tree?
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Old 01-13-2014, 05:30 PM   #10 (permalink)
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I reckon that the first time he saw the tree there was something in it (like a squirrel, bird)
Now he is paranoid that something is up there and will keep barking.

Next time you go out there make a distraction. Stuff a kong or do some obedience training with really yummy treats to distract her. You will be teaching her that doing something else with you is much more fun then barking at a tree.
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